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Democracy Confirmed: An Analysis of the Draft "Declaration of Quebec City"
by John Kirton, University of Toronto
Quebec City, April 20, 2001


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The draft "Declaration of Quebec City" that the leaders brought to Quebec City to adjust, polish and release on Sunday confirms that this is indeed the Democracy Summit, and not one about free trade.

Lest there be any doubt about the focus, the declaration opens by affirming the importance of democracy. It heralds the values of the "well-being of our people," "representative democracy," "good governance," "human rights" and "fundamental freedoms." In the declaration's first ten paragraphs, the value or term "free trade" appears not even once.

What the leaders have in fact focused on, in contrast to some of the protesters outside, are the tasks of strengthening development, human security, democracy and the rule of law.

To give these democratic commitments real force, the leaders pledge that "any unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes a fundamental obstacle to the participation of that state's government in the Summit of the Americas process."

To deepen the democratic bite, the leaders promise to "systematize and reinforce" all the instruments of the OAS "for the defence of representative democracy."

To add another layer, they look to give more resources to the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, to a level "adequate" to deliver the goods.

To starve potentially repressive regimes of the oxygen that fuels them, the leaders pledge to "prevent excessive military expenditures" - a passage Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias would want the U.S. and Chile to take particular note of.

They further promise to establish new mechanisms to address the labour-related issues brought by globalization.

To lessen the poverty that often fosters repression, the leaders commit themselves to halving the portion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

Citizens committed to deepening democracy in the hemisphere have every right and reason to ask whether these enforcement measures are enough. To remove any doubt, there is one easily available thing they should do: quickly conclude a full free trade agreement with robust social protections, programs and institutions. Then declare that any country losing the democratic faith will not be allowed to enjoy its benefits. In this way, as in others, free trade can be fashioned to deliver the ever deeper democracy that all citizens of the hemisphere want and deserve.



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